Sunday 18 February 2018

'Home' not where heart is for Jones

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

HE'LL be heading to the away dressing room and lining out in red, but for Wales U-20 full-back Ross Jones tonight will be something of a homecoming.

The Ospreys' back learned his rugby at Castleknock College and played U-18 for Ireland having lived here for a decade, but his heart always lay across the Irish Sea. His family may still live in Dublin, but the Llanelli-born flyer won't have mixed loyalties tonight.

"I always considered myself to be Welsh and I've always dreamed about playing for Wales," he admitted. "That was why I jumped at the chance of coming home to Wales when the Ospreys offered me a three-year development contract.

"I wouldn't have been anywhere near a Leinster jersey at this stage in my development had I stayed in Ireland and now I'm lining-up to play for Wales U-20 as well."

Irish tight-head Peter Reilly is a former team-mate of Jones and he is part of a team looking for revenge against the Welsh side who beat them at last year's Junior World Cup.

Ulster's Paddy Jackson skippers the side and his experience and assuredness will be key to Irish efforts.

The backline looks potent, with inside centre JJ Hanrahan having already played for Munster and Sam Coghlan Murray possessing the pace to beat defenders. Athlone has been a fortress for the U-20s in recent years, but Mike Ruddock's pack will need to step up and win the forward battle to get their Six Nations off to a good start.

Verdict: Ireland.

IRELAND -- S Leydon (Buccaneers/Connacht); B Daly (UCD/Leinster), F Horan (Lansdowne/Leinster), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemian/Munster), S Coghlan Murray (UCD/Leinster); P Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster, capt), K Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht); K McCall (Ballynahinch/Ulster), N Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), P Reilly (Lansdowne/Leinster); I Henderson (QUB/Ulster), D Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht); C Gilsenan (UCD/Leinster), A Conneely (Corinthians/Connacht), J Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster). Replacements: D Merrey (Clontarf/Leinster), J Rael (Garryowen/Munster), J Cawley (Old Belvedere/Leinster), T Beirne (Lansdowne/Leinster), J Coghlan (UCD/Leinster), L McGrath (UCD/Leinster), C Marsh (DUFC/Leinster), C Farrell (Dungannon/Ulster).

WALES -- R Jones (Ospreys); I Evans (Scarlets), N Edwards (Bridgend), C Allen (Blues), L Morgan (Ospreys); S Davies (Ospreys), J Evans (Dragons); R Evans (Scarlets), K Myhill (Scarlets, capt), W John (Blues); M Screech (Blues), R Hughes (Ospreys); E Jenkins (Blues), D Thomas (Scarlets), R Tucker (Blues). Replacements: J Sollis (Dragons), T Davies (Blues), D Suter (Ospreys), D Crimmins (Cardiff), I Jones (Dragons), J Davies (Dragons), Lewis Williams (Blues), Luke Williams (Dragons).

Ireland v Wales, Live, RTE2, 7.05

Irish Independent

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